A fond farewell to all my blog followers… and invitation to read my newest blog!!

Ilana (author) and Joan (inspirational mother) whilst visiting us in India

Dear Blog Readers,

I’m not sure if you have noticed or not, but the last posting was made on Thursday March 21. I am usually extremely verbose and regular with my postings and yet… Here is the explanation: March 21 was the day before I left for Canada on Easter holiday to visit my mother and father. Sadly, it was at the end of this lovely 2 week holiday that we suddenly found out that my mother’s cancer had returned. I was literally 2 hours away from the Toronto International Airport… I immediately appealed to ISM for compassion leave. I will be forever grateful to administration’s immediate and unfailing suppport as they granted me the ability to be by my mother’s side in Canada, in what turned out to be the last 3 weeks of her life… Living overseas and having family illnesses is always a challenge that must be faced sooner or later, and it was a blessing that I could be with my beautiful mother until the end. I returned for the last 3 weeks of the school year, but was caught up in writing report cards and packing up my house and classroom as my family and I move on from ISM to start a new chapter of our overseas teaching life.Hence the sudden silence from my blog.

I am a writer, that’s what I love to do… (as many of you have figured out, given the extensive nature of my blog postings!!!). As a daughter coping with the loss of my mother, I found a therapeutic way to deal with my grief and mourning – by writing!! In the weeks following my mother’s death, I felt this overwhelming need to capture and share all our memories, stories and recollections of Joan M. McGrath: mother, grandmother, poet and artist. I had this vague notion that there must be something out there in CyberLand to manifest my desire, so I did what I often ask my students to do… have a question to investigate through research! A short Google search later I discovered the world of online memorial websites, and after a while longer, I uncovered my favourite of the whole bunch – muchloved.com! Funnily enough, it turns out that this was the first-ever memorial website created, back in 1990 and that it was British-based (my mother’s homeland)! Looking back now on those early weeks, I see that this website was VERY therapeutic for what I needed… an outlet for writing “Slices of Life” narratives, much like I taught my students in Writing Workshop. You will find on this website vignettes, (“Life stories”) as they are called on the website, poems written by my mother, wishes and memories from family, friends and acquaintances, even photos from her life and artistic endeavours. My mother was an artist; a talent gleaned from my grandmother (teacher and painter) and the grandfather I never met (published WW2 war poet and editor of the Edinburgh Herald in Scotland). I am who I am because of my mother…

So this is my last post on this ISM blog, as I leave this school with my family to move on to another international school in a few weeks. This blog will remain open for browsing, but will not grow any further after my years at ISM. Thank you for making my world map of visitors grow and grow and grow (it always boggled my mind that anyone beyond my students and their parents/grandparents would be interested in this blog!!).

I also invite you to browse through my newest memorial website and enjoy it purely for the sake of learning about a remarkable lady… http://joan.mcgrath.muchloved.com

Peace out…


Writing Workshop photos… Linger Longer unit in full swing as we preplan our story!!

SHORT planner - 6 "bare bones" main events

True writers linger in the planning process so

LONG planner with MAIN events and also SUPPORTING events

that when they get to the drafting of their story, they are well and truly

extra describing "Sausage Man" details

familiar with every aspect of their self-created story. I would like to give you a photo update of the various steps we have taken over these past few weeks in Writing Workshop as we plan out our “2 day –> 6 week” stories! This entire time, we have been investigating what good writers do by looking into a very familiar story – Cinderella. Then we take that knowledge and understanding to apply it to our very own story. It has been exciting to see the ideas begin to blossom, and I just know that when we get to the drafting stage of the writing

expanding on the character details using the Action-Reaction planner... what does the character say, think, feel and do because of the event that happened??

process, our wonderful Smartian writers will be bursting with ideas for the juiciest story of their life…

International Day Concert… up close and personal at the rehearsals!!

There is a huge amount of excitement in the air this week as the students made the finishing touches for their International Day concert. They had 2 rehearsals in the FAT, and I took the opportunity of being in the front row to snap some fabulously close up photos of our star performers!! I know they have all worked so hard, so the concert on Friday should be a stunner!! Enjoy this slideshow… Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video.

Outstanding Art Exhibition now showing in the Fine Arts Theatre foyer…

Sheer brilliance and artistry… undescribable beauty and creativity!! I hope you will all get a chance, like we did this week, to visit the Elementary Art Exhibition in the Fine Arts Theatre. Bravo to all my Smartian artists… Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video.

Energy Houses form a CMC display called NO IMPACT TOWN…

What an amazing idea to follow up on the highly successful Energy House Showcase last week. All the Grade 3 students have displayed their Energy Houses in the CMC, arranged in “streets” to create  NO IMPACT TOWN. We hope you will be able to visit it sometime soon..!

Reading Workshop… Partner Buzz Book Rave project…

A picture is worth a thousand words (my usual style -haha!), so I will post this photo and get your Smartian to update you with the latest…

Karate Math keeps on chopping… now with DVBB!!

DVBB, you say? What in the world is that? Another tool in our Karate Math ToolBox… DIVISION VERTICAL BIT by BIT!!! Having reestablished the connection between multiplication and division using our Fact Triangles, we have now moved into the world of division. Before we get to the grown up world of traditional division, we learned a strategy called DVBB. Much like VBB multiplication, this kind of division goes vertically, instead of “cliff division, which goes horizontally! Bit by bit means that instead of trying to do everything all at once, we take calm and relaxed “nice easy number” steps bit by bit – multiply, then subtract, then multiply some more and subtract some more… until we get so “close to the edge of the cliff” that we only have a remainder left over (not enough to squeeze out another group!). You could see and hear the lightbulbs going on with the Smartians as we investigated and practised this method. Student professors came up and taught the class even – bravo!! The cool thing about this bit by bit method, is that there are many different ways of ending up with the same answer – it all depends on how you see the numbers! For example, some people saw 10 groups, then 9 groups and “glued them together to make 19 groups altogether… while other people saw it as 10 groups, then 5 groups, then 4 groups all “glued together” to make 19 groups in total!!!! Now that’s what I call mathematical flexibility…

Energy Architects hard at work building now that the planning and writing has been done…!

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video. The road to the Energy House Showcase on Friday rolled along as Room 2020 became a beehive of building activity this week. Creative genius rose to the surface as Smartians got creative with building materials – both real and virtual! What better way to show this than through a photo display of the week’s action. See how many ISM transdisciplinary skills and dispositions you notice being displayed through these photographs!! Everyone was VERY excited, and I must say, time management became a big focus. Ask your Smartian how they did this week…!! The final step on Thursday was to take a step back, revisit their Buyer’s Guide from last week and see if there needed to be any final revisions or editing. Bravo Smartians for all your hard work… can’t wait for the Energy House Showcase on Friday!!!!

The BIG Day finally arrives… Energy House Showcase!!!

 The excitement was in the air as the Smartians walked into the classroom on Friday morning. Mrs. McGrath immediately got them to pull out their Dear Mum and Dad (DMDs) so that they could capture an authentic writing experience… their PRE-thoughts before the Energy House Showcase got started at 8:30 up in the lofthouse. From 7:35 – 8 am, they “splatted” their thoughts and feelings onto paper, and then it was time to migrate upstairs with all their model houses and Minecraft projects. Each student had a “SOLD!!” feedback form for their future customers to fill in. Slowly, our community called ElectroSmartia began to take shape… then around 8:30 some parents began to come in… and so began the adventure called Energy House Showcase 2013!!! It was an amazing experience to watch the Smartians try to persuade and convince the people that their energy house design was THE ONE to go for!! Minecrafters let customers wear the headphones so that they could listen to their persuasive recording, while house model people showed off the features of their house through their typed up “Buyer’s Guide”. Sooooooooooooooooooo many people came to the Showcase, both students from other classes and parents. WOW! At the end of the showcase, it was amazing to gather up the page after page of feedback, and head back to the classroom to reflect on the experience. What went well? What would you have liked to do differently next time? What memories do you have from the experience?!  Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video. Later on during the day, we filled in some reflection “Brain Splat” sheets for our Learning Journals. Next week, the individual class presentations begin, when students will be evaluating themselves on their rubric, along with getting feedback from other Smartians. Bravo – what job well done!!!

Biomass Guest Speaker shows us the POWER in NATURE…

All the Grade 3 students filed into the Lofthouse on Friday to listen to a Grade 3 dad, Mr. Hauber, speak on the important topic of making energy from biomass. We all know that renewable energy sources is the way of the future, and it was fascinating to find out how biomass is being used as biofuel right here, right now!! The Smartians were armed with their notebooks, ready for “treasure grabbing”, and I must say that I was proud of how focused and interested my little energy warriors were! They watched the powerpoint presentation with attention, and asked questions along the way. One slide in particular made us all smile and laugh out loud… apparently, cows’ farts actually contain methane, a gas that can be captured and converted into biofuel!! Imagine that! I hope you take the time to watch this powerpoint once again and have wonderful, thoughtful discussions about this very important renewable energy! In fact, there was a newspaper article just today that said Philippines is opening a new biomass energy plant this week! This is not some futuristic concept of sci fi books… this is happening right here, right now in countries around the world, like the Philippines. BRAVO!! Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Flash video.

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Check out all of our student-written reflections here...

A big part of ISM is reflective thinking... being active thinking about your thinking!! You will be able to read all the posts written by the citizens of Smartia by clicking on the image above. Imagine, it will be almost as if you were right there on the spot with the students!! Enjoy !

Here\'s a direct link to all of Mrs McGrath\'s classroom photos from FLICKR...

ISM has a Flickr photo account accessible on the portal page. However, if you click on the image above, you can have quick direct access to all of the wonderful photos that come from Mrs. McGrath's world of Smartia! There are so many adventures to view, so click away and enjoy being a "fly on the wall" !! Spread the word so that all overseas family and friends can see what is happening a world away!

Check out all of our fantastic student-created videos here... Book Talks and more!

There are so many ways to demonstrate learning and understanding - gone are the days of purely doing writtten assignments! Information can be shared through the medium of video. Different students learn in different styles and certainly it's true that variety is the spice of life!! Are you demonstrating understanding if you can explain something orally?? Are you understanding if you can demonstrate a skill?? Is it good to spread the news about a great book that you just read??Absolutely yes!! Share your enthusiasm... Throughout the year, the citizens of Smartia will be doing some special video projects that are sure to create excitement. Click on the image above to see videos that have been created by our students. Enjoy - Hollywood, here we come!!